Hundreds of fans crammed into the Newark Pavilion on Saturday afternoon for a chance to meet famous professional wrestlers at Wrestlefest 2009.
Ring stars such as Vader, Scotty Too Hotty, Val Venis, Kamala, Pat Paterson and Bret Hart were on hand to sign autographs and pose for photos with admirers.
Jason Gunderson and his fiancée, Dalila Bushey, traveled a day-and-a-half from Seattle for the chance to see fan favorite Hart, also known as the "The Hitman."
"I've never met Bret. I've only seen him in matches," Gunderson said. "The last time I saw him really close, I was 8 years old."
Gunderson made the long trip with his Bret Hart jacket, replica championship belt and pink wristbands.
"I thought Bret would be in major cities," he said, "but he's here in this little town and it's amazing."
The annual event drew about 500 fans during the afternoon. Another 500 or so were expected later, when some of the wrestlers, such as Scotty Too Hotty and Val Venis, were to jump into the ring.
Gabe Cortez, 17, made his way from Watsonville to see his favorite wrestler, also Bret Hart. "He's always been my favorite," Cortez said. "It's something I never thought I'd be able to do."
Joe Kirshenbaum of San Francisco has been a huge wrestling fan most of his life, often traveling to similar shows.
"I'm just a die-hard wrestling fan. I travel all along the West Coast
One former Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler at the event was Justin Credible, who said he often appears at these events. He said the really die-hard fans are the ones that show up.
"It's a lot of fun, actually," he said about the Newark event. "I love it. Just to see all the fans. Usually when you see them, its behind the barricades."
Andrew Cox, who was born and raised in Fremont and now lives in Tracy, was just as excited to see his favorite grapplers in person.
"I'm a die-hard wrestling fan. The person I was excited to meet was Justin Credible. When he was in his ECW days he was one of the most hated wrestlers, but for some reason I like him," Cox said. "It's unimaginable. It's just so cool, especially Bret Hart and Jim "The Anvil" (Neidhart), the Hart Foundation. It's just an all-time dream of mine."